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did not set out to be an actor. growing up in kansas city as the son of orthodox jewish immigrants, he made a name for himself playing high school football and was headed for a career as a reporter until a conversation with his journalism teacher. >> i wouldn't. he said why not? he said you can't make a living. oh, okay. okay. so i went on to become the overnight sensation as an actor that you see before you. >> reporter: in fact as asner told me in our conversation at a fame broadway restaurant, his assent was anything but overnight. after starring roles in college productions at the university of chicago, he dropped out to make it as an actor while supporting himself with odd jobs. >> my first job was in an auto plant in kansas city. they treated you like a slave. from there i went back to chicago, worked in steel mill, drove a cab stuff like that >> reporter: gradually he started getting parts in plays, film and tv. then in 1970... along came mary. mary tyler moore played an inspiring news producer with asner as her boss. he says he knew it would be a hit when they taped the first s
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